Foxvideo Productions

Video / DVD production and editing

Shot of the day.

Shot of the day leaving Gloucester lock, from a 'ride along' today with Wye Invader Two from Tirley to Gloucester docks.

WI2_Mirror

Wye Invader Two

Good to be out with a video camera again instead of slogging over HTML and CSS, a good workout for my new Fuji TH13x3.5BRMU lens, more to follow!

tirley_sm

tirley2_sm

Another website and another eBay bargain!

My main camera is a JVC HM700, it suits me well for the type of work I still do. I got it for a great price when someone I know wanted to sell quickly but ever since I’ve I owned it I’ve always noticed the lack at the wide end and always wanted to upgrade the lens for the Fuji TH13x3.5BRMU wide angle, this lens gets stunning reviews but certainly isn't cheap! The price was around £6000 plus VAT from JVC dealers, doing a quick Google search, I found one US dealer still selling it for $11,000. I know another HM700 user who found one used for £3200 and made an offer of £2700 and he got it for that price, more than I paid for my HM700.

So when browsing eBay recently I spotted one on a ‘Buy it Now’ for £400 being sold by a pro dealer who I know and have dealt with on previous occasions - it was a no brainer and I hit the ‘Buy Now’. I knew there was a 14 day return guarantee so had no problems ordering it. When it arrived I ran some tests the following day and the lens certainly lives up to it’s reviews, it’ll work well for me next time I’m filming on Wye Invader Two as space is very limited. As a bonus the lens I removed, a Canon that comes with the HM700, fits the JVC HD110 I bought for £120 from eBay last year.

13x3.5

Despite my nice new lens, I’m not doing much shooting at the moment, it’s all website work with a new website for a lady who phoned in a panic after being let down by someone who was going to produce it for her. She was organising a Summer camp in August and needed a website to give out details and offer either an online booking form or a downloadable booking form. I bought a Domain name, hosting and had a holding page up by later that night, a full site went up the following day. After some text changes and decisions on what the booking forms should look like, the completed site went up the very next day. It was indexed by Bing almost instantly, unfortunately I’m still waiting for Google to index it and it can take up to 3 weeks although I have had Google index a site within 48 hours before now.

Yes, I’m still around!


or so my doctor assures me.

To be honest I’ve not had anything interesting to blog (or rant!) about recently. I’ve taken on 2 more people for website build and maintain, both Christian individuals who wanted to get their information out and onto the web.
Tony Packer, a missionary working mainly in and around Serbia and Tony Chamberlain, I first met Tony Chamberlain over 50 years ago when he was a Minister of Romford Elim church, we’ve crossed paths several times over the years and he’s now based in Gloucester, just 20 miles from me.

I’m still enjoying learning, using and working with Rapidweaver 7, it really suits my way of producing websites without being a ‘code guru’ although my working knowledge of CSS is improving and I’m dropping in bits of CSS code to pages. A major layout problem occurred recently that did take some detective work to solve on Tony Chamberlain’s site, I didn’t like the way Google had indexed it (not their fault, but mine) so I needed to change the index.html site and page title, suddenly all my page headings dropped below the menu banner, it took a few hours to work out the text change had added too many characters and all I had to do was reduce the text size by a fraction of a point to solve it!

A recent announcement from Google and the latest web browser updates has meant moving all the sites I maintain from http to https (note the little green padlock in the browser bar above), 2 of my sites were on HeartInternet who wanted £45 per year per Domain for this service, my remaining sites are with One.com who offered https for free - it was a no brainer to move the 2 sites from Heart to One.com. It can be quite stressful moving Domain hosts, one wrong click or checkbox missed and it could all go wrong, I’ve moved one site so far with all the mailboxes moved over and links changed to https, one site still to go if my heart holds out!

Video and editing work is very slow although it’s the time of year for the
Peace and Hope Trust AGM and I was asked to produce 3 short videos from stills taken over the last 12 months in Nicaragua. I’ve done these for around 6 or 7 years now and it’s always difficult to try and come up with something different using just stills. Many of the images are 12 or 16 megapixels, well over the 4000 pixel size that FCP 7 allows, so this time I used FCPX. The script had been sent to me as a Word doc ahead of the P&H Field Director coming in to record his voiceover so I used Tim Dashwood’s Scratch Track App to give me an .aiff to lay down to work with, this App is (was!) a real help although it’s now been sadly discontinued from the App Store.


Scratch_Track_icon


I’d usually upload draft edits for Peace and Hope to Vimeo but this time round I didn’t renew my Vimeo Pro subscription, instead I’m now using Amazon Web Services S3, there’s a free trial for 12 months and then a monthly cost (usually around a few pence depending on use) and although it takes bit of understanding to use, AWS really seems the way to go for ‘warehousing’ and storage. I’ll post the Peace and Hope video here after the AGM.

Slightly off topic, one recent purchase has made a massive difference. We have 2 phone lines here and one of them was constantly ringing with junk calls, up to 8 a day, a call minder that showed the calling number helped but call centres are now getting round this by showing legitimate numbers. I’d spotted a news item recently that BT had introduced a new service called BT Call Protect along with a dedicated phone that would solve the problem, BT were offering the phone (BT4600) for £39.99 although Amazon were offering the same item on Prime for £33.61, as Prime users we ordered through Prime and the new phone arrived the next day. That was 8 weeks ago - we’ve not had a single junk call since!

81tehFmJVIL._SL1500_

The phone screens all calls, you can add 200 personal numbers that come through as normal but unknown numbers have to give a name, if they are genuine the phone then rings and asks if you want to allow the call, a button press lets the call through and you can then permanently allow (or block) that number, there’s an answerphone built in and lots of other features you’ll need to read the instruction book about but it’s well worth the investment - definitely one of our all time best buys and that, just about brings you up to date with my last (quiet!) few months.





You've got to just love eBay!


There's some very hopeful sellers out there!

mx12

52Mbps to 143Mbps…. then back!

Every Sunday afternoon a local Chapel send me an mp3 audio file of their Sunday morning message to upload to their website, I usually give it a quick top and tail, apply a compressor, EQ it and then upload it, this Sunday turned out a bit different…..

Halfway through the upload RapidWeaver gave a “SSH couldn’t login” error, it’s happened before and a retry usually fixes it but not this time, I exported the site to a local folder and tried another FTP program, same error, a third FTP program also gave the error, as these were all FTP connections from Bookmarks I knew it wasn’t a login or password problem, looking at the Chapel website one whole page was now missing, not good!

My web host has a 365 day ‘Live Chat’ option for help so I contacted them, we went through all the usual questions they have to ask including ‘did I have the correct password?’, they were able to upload a file and strangely I was able to delete it remotely, as I was actually using ‘Live Chat’ and could delete files from their server it was only proving that my Broadband was working, the only other option they could suggest was that I use FileZilla which seemed strange as I already tried 3 different FTP programs, but I guess in an attempt to get me off Chat they gave me some options to try.

FileZilla downloaded but wouldn’t install, so I went back to my host and this time got a more helpful person who reset the Domain and said to allow 30 minutes before trying again. I then thought of trying some of my other domains and these all failed to upload, this gave me the first hint it might not be my web host but a BT problem and the first option with BT troubleshooting is a router reset, I turned it off and had a cup of tea.

10 minutes later, I reconnected the router and tried an upload - same SSH error! Using the BT Wholesale Speedtest website I got a download speed of 143Mbps, a 0 upload and a very long Ping test so I went digging into the router logs most of which I didn’t understand but I did see lots of error messages, back onto ‘Live Chat’ this time to BT.


sppedtest

A very helpful person understood the problem straight away and within seconds I could upload! Another BT Speedtest showed I was back to my normal 52Mbps download and 9Mbps upload speeds, a test with FTP and the Chapel’s missing files went back in seconds and the website was back to normal with the latest Sunday message, in all about 4 hours messing around and I still have no explanation as to the actual problem!

Murphy's Law.

Screen Shot

Just one day after spending the best part of the day converting a RapidWeaver blog to Foundation using a 'workaround' method (see post below) someone brings out a RapidWeaver Blog Stack.

£26 off my credit card and 2 hours work later I have a working Blog on a Foundation website that looks miles better than my workaround. For anyone reading this whose interested - http://rapidweavercommunity.com/addons/stacks/poster-stack - Best Stack I've bought this year so far!

So, I made a huge error!

I was asked to produce a website for an independent evangelist working in Eastern Europe, I decided against using Foundation for the template as the evangelist had asked for a couple of specific types of pages, a news and photo page which are both included in RapidWeaver. I found a template in RapidWeaver I’d bought sometime ago and used on a site that’s no longer up, with a colour change and some type changes I thought it’d look good.

I spent around 4 days putting it together from the material supplied, a Home page, an About page, a Latest News page, a photo’s page and a Contact page. I tested it in Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge and Safari and uploaded it to a Domain we’d bought, the evangelist approved it and added the web address to his email signature, very soon there were hits from all over the world.

The site includes a tracking cookie (with the relevant EU notification), looking at the stats a few days later I saw most of the Eastern European visitors were using mobile devices which was fine as the site was fully responsive but I did notice a few users on Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 11 which I’d not checked the site with, I used an old PC with Windows 7 I have here and the site looked terrible, it was obvious the template I’d used wasn’t suitable for Explorer.

Then it was back to the drawing board this time using Foundation, much of the site I could copy/paste into new Stacks, I did have some problems as Foundation itself has no Blog support, so I used a Stacks page and copied over all the entries so far, the Photo gallery was another problem, I ended up using WeaverPix3 to create a photo gallery and then PlusKit4 to display it on a Stacks page. The site was uploaded to it’s Domain and this time, tested on my old PC with Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 11 - it all looked as it should and all other browsers on both Mac and PC worked as well, so lesson learned - Don’t take it for granted everything will work - Check!

Screen Shot 1

MailChimp

Screen Shot 2

I’ve just sent out my first MailChimp campaign. A non-profit organisation I support for all things media related had been putting out a newsletter 4 times a year, this was previously produced in Microsoft Publisher, converted to PDF and emailed out as an attachment to over 480 email addresses, the PDF was usually around 5Mb in size, the list needed to be split into 6 sections and then sent out on the organisation’s own (slow!) broadband service in batches and this often resulted in many emails bounced or rejected.

I’d produced a ’test’ newsletter in MailChimp which was discussed at a recent Trustees meeting and given the go-ahead. It took around half a day to design using the MailChimp built in templates, I sent it to the Trustees for approval which was given. I’d obtained the Outlook distribution list of 480 addresses as a text file, this was imported into Excel, it was then a matter of going through looking for typo’s, correcting case errors and finding duplicates, then exported as a text file and imported into MailChimp, 458 imported fine, 2 were rejected as MailChimp doesn’t allow “admin@“ or “post@‘.

With just a little apprehension, it was time to hit the ‘send’ button, I’d included my email address in the list and within 5 minutes the Newsletter arrived in my own inbox. After 2 hours I logged into MailChimp to view the statistics they provide, 30 emails had bounced mainly due to ‘mailbox doesn’t exist’ probably as people had moved on to other jobs or email providers and 4 had ‘unsubscribed’ as ‘no longer interested’, I’ll follow the stats for the next few days and provide a report for the Trustees.

Screen Shot 1

Overall, I’m very impressed with MailChimp, it reduces many hours of work in the organisations office, reduces the huge amount of bandwidth used to send out the newsletter and includes an easy ‘unsubscribe’ option that was previously done manually.

The free version of MailChimp allows for 2000 subscribers and 20,000 sends in a 12 month period, more than enough for our purposes, it was very easy to author, import addresses and then send out, additionally the stats provide an excellent way of tracking the success of the newsletter, I’m now looking forward to producing the next one!

Unlock password protected Powerpoint (or computer says No!)

imgres

A friend contacted me recently, he was trying to download some Powerpoint's from a website to use at a children’s church event, the site offered many PP’s all for free use but they were password protected, there was an explanation given that if asked, to open the PP’s as ‘Read only’ which I tried several times using Office 365 on a Mac but failed miserably.

I dropped the author an email explaining the problem and asked for help but with no response I had a thought, would they open with a right click and ‘open with’ in Keynote on my Mac?

Simple answer - yes, they opened with no password request and with no problems, I could then export them from Keynote as normal PPT’s with no password for my friend to open on his PC and use for his service on Sunday.